Why Your Dealership Should Embrace the Credit Union

By Staff Writer on February 27, 2018

There’s something about a credit union. Known for their local presence and ability to provide a better, more-personalized banking experience, credit unions are well-positioned to provide a higher level of …

Why Your Dealership Should Embrace the Credit Union

By Staff Writer on February 27, 2018

There’s something about a credit union. Known for their local presence and ability to provide a better, more-personalized banking experience, credit unions are well-positioned to provide a higher level of …

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The Customer Journey Starts Long Before They Visit Your Showroom

By Staff Writer on February 20, 2018

Are you thinking point-of-sale or all the points that lead to the sale?

If you’re thinking of just point-of-sale, you may be hurting your bottom line.

It’s all about the customer experience, the customer journey and the customer satisfaction.

It’s no longer about browsing multiple dealerships, test driving cars and haggling with a salesperson (which customers hate – to put it in perspective, a Gallup poll found 9 percent of respondents found car salesmen honest and ethical; members of congress got 8 percent) –  it’s the sum of every customer experience leading up to the purchase.

“Whether they’re shopping for a simple razor or looking to spend $50,000 on a vehicle, consumers have come to expect an easy, personalized and informative shopping experience,” a Perq Digital Book states.

Customers will conduct so much research along that journey that when they enter your dealership, their sale is yours to lose.

And so, the sales cycle begins in any number of ways. A car buyer may seek recommendations, start Googling types of vehicles they want or seek out a car based on make. They may even casually browse with no intention of purchasing a vehicle at all.

With the help of location-based algorithms or search keywords, they may end up on your website. Just type Ford into a search engine and dealerships in a 20-mile radius are likely to pop up; and you could be one of them. When the customer clicks on your website, what do they see?

For most, dealer websites are internet versions of that salesperson they want to avoid. Prices and deals and pictures. Oh, and lead generation forms. Customers have no problem giving up information as long as they see a benefit in doing so. Unfortunately, many do not, so they see these forms as nothing more than a nuisance; therefore, the experience is thwarted by creating a poor impression and thus little-to-no value for the lead.

The customer’s research will most likely lead them to your website long before they consider entering your showroom. Your website can provide them with clear, useful information to guide their decision-making other than a long list of features (don’t all vehicles have AM/FM radio?) and prices (isn’t that part of the dreaded haggling process?). Will that really persuade them to visit your showroom?

The key is providing useful tools and information to help the car buyer make their decision. To be memorable, you have to show you’re ahead of the competition.

  • Excellent Pictures

Having quality photos of your inventory helps you and your vehicles stand out compared with other dealerships. Poor pictures can reduce the perceived value, condition and quality of the vehicle.

  • Vehicle Descriptions

When a customer views a vehicle on your website, are they bombarded with features or is there a captivating description of what driving the vehicle is like? Does the customer feel the smooth performance and luxurious, leather seating? Or are they just reading “Leather Seats” and “AWD 6-Speed Automatic”?

  • Home Page

Why should a customer bring their business to you? A scrolling carousel of lease deals won’t differentiate one dealer from another. Awards, commitment to service and listing other benefits will help a car buyer see why your dealership is different.


The best way to be memorable is to be present. If someone bought a vehicle from you, interact with them in a way that adds to the experience because if you expect them to return in five or six years to buy their next car, then you’re wishful thinking – and losing a lot of potential after-sales revenue as well.

A customer’s journey into purchasing their next vehicle should be never-ending. If there is no interaction after delivery, you will need to reacquire the customer as if you never had them in the first place.

Through OneClick Loyalty, we make it easy for you to digitally engage with the car buyer. They learn the benefits of service through your dealership, get advice on keeping their car running smoothly and receive the right messages at the right time so that they are receptive.

With only a handful of positive interactions, you build an enjoyable experience that your customers will associate with your dealership. And, when it’s time to purchase or lease again, they will naturally feel compelled to make the journey back through your showroom doors.

Proactive, positive engagement and a resourceful and responsive website will help pave the way for retention.

Just One Expert on Tech Can Boost Customer Service

By Staff Writer on February 13, 2018

Customers are inundated with more features to learn about their vehicles. Dealerships have the responsibility and an incredible amount of pressure to take the car buyer through a variety of features – some of which the salesperson may not be very familiar with.

As vehicles become more equipped with higher levels of tech, it will be increasingly imperative for the dealership to take on an active role in explaining its full capabilities. By proactively explaining the tech features to the customer, a dealership can show they are truly invested in the customer experience, even after they have driven off the lot.

Everyone loves tech in their vehicles but not everyone easily understands it. While the younger generations appreciate the connectivity and high-tech components of the vehicle, older generations find the blind spot warnings, back-up cameras and braking features to be especially beneficial. Some need more instructions on usage over others.

The basic features we take for granted such as climate control, radio, GPS and cruise control are no longer about turning a dial; it’s multifaceted and can be a considerable distraction when learning its use while driving.

This becomes an issue though when it’s time to explain the full range of tech features on the vehicle and how to maximize its use. Yes, a customer understands the vehicle has air conditioning and window defrosting, and they probably believe they can quickly implement them at a moment’s notice, however, fiddling with the console features when they’re not used to them can be frustrating.

The problem is, the last thing most car buyers want to do after spending hours at the dealership is to sit and learn about the car they just bought. They just want to drive it out of there.

The trick is creating a great experience that proves you are committed to customer satisfaction. The Northwest GM dealership has a salesperson who is considered a tech-friendly customer support person, or “tech-spert”, and is available to chat with customers when they have tech-related questions, even after they have taken delivery and left the lot.

They also shoot tutorials. A one-minute “how-to” video show from a smart phone regarding using the GPS feature has the opportunity to bring more eyes to your dealership and show that you not only care about the customer experience, but that you are experts in the vehicle features.

Offering quick, “how-to” videos digitally is valuable because the customer has it on-demand, so they can access it months later, if necessary.

OneClick Loyalty is the perfect platform to reach out to customers and assure them that you are available to answer any questions regarding their vehicle, including features, F&I and other aspects related to their car.

When the buyer needs an expert, make sure they have a reason to come to you. Being available and ensuring the customer gets the most out of their vehicle ownership experience plays a big role in driving retention, building loyalty and increasing revenue.

Do You Deserve a Referral?

By Staff Writer on February 6, 2018

Have you ever enjoyed a meal so thoroughly that you couldn’t wait to recommend the restaurant to your friends and family?  What was it about that experience that made it so exceptional?

It probably went beyond the taste of the food. The service and the atmosphere were probably noteworthy too.

Finally, did the restaurant ask you to refer them to your friends and family?

When it comes to operating the dealership, whether sales or service, are you creating advocates or asking for referrals to those whose experience doesn’t warrant one?

When Facebook friends ask for recommendations on where to purchase their next car or to go for service, your name may come up: “ABC Dealership is good,” they might say. But a dozen other friends might recommend their go-to place for car sales or service as well.

Asking Isn’t Enough

Referrals are arguably one of the cheapest forms of advertising. They come from a trusted source and the people like knowing they are going to where their friends have been before. But if your salespeople or service advisors don’t seem to care about the level of service they provide or don’t seem interested in doing more than is necessary, why should you expect the customer to proactively refer you?

Asking doesn’t hurt but most would probably shrug it off. “Yeah, sure. I’ll tell my friends about you.” But the likelihood is small unless their friend asks, “Hey, where did you buy your car?” or “Where do you take your car for service.”

Even then, it’s not a referral, it’s answering a question.

The follow up could go as followed:

Customer’s Friend: “Do you like them?”

Customer: “Yeah.”

It’s not necessarily a ringing endorsement of your dealership.

Aside from advocates who will refer you on their own, there are ideal moments when a dealership can maximize their referral request:

1. They show excitement toward the product or service you provided.

When you tell the customer the vehicle looks great after their oil change and there were no problems, they will probably show a little excitement – most are afraid of a major problem discovered when bringing their car in; even wondering if they are being scammed.

Ask for the referral then. “I hope we provided you with great service. A referral is the best compliment we can receive.”


2. When they compliment you, that would be another ideal time to ask for the referral.

If they say, “You’re always so good here. You really know how to take care of my car and your coffee is delicious.”

You can respond, “Thank you. If you know anyone looking to service their vehicle, please send them our way and we’ll treat them just as good too.”

But it still comes down to the customer service and how the customer feels — make it so they want to refer you.


Find Areas of Improvement

While many take to Google to give their two cents on a business, it can be hard to gauge exactly where improvements are needed based on reading and responding to reviews. Surveys can provide insight into a dealership’s areas of improvements.

Soon after delivery or service, it’s advisable to send a short survey to the customer to gain valuable feedback on their experience. When it comes to designing a survey that customers fill out, shorter is better – over half of the survey participants often will not spend more than three minutes filling out a survey.

Do You Deserve a Referral?

The actions a salesperson or service advisor takes will ultimately determine if your dealership deserves the referral. As the automotive industry continues its shift from product-centric to customer-centric, customers will expect more from the companies they do business with.

They can buy a car anywhere and take their vehicle in for service at any number of places all offering a similar price-point. Why should they choose you?

It will ultimately be what you can offer the customer versus your competitors. Low prices won’t cut it. As James Brinkley, Dealer Marketing Magazine, says, “…offer your customers more (value)…not less (price).”

Next time someone inquires, “Where should I buy my car?” Your customer can respond, “I know the perfect place. They’re great. Ask for John.”

Why Not Sunday for Service?

By Staff Writer on January 15, 2018

For decades there have been laws preventing car sales on Sundays. Some dealerships see it as antiquated; others embrace it.

But, forget the car sales part of the equation and considered, even if limited hours, opening the service bays on a Sunday even if you legally have to keep the showroom closed.

Essentially, it could be your most profitable day of the week.

Chris Miller, President of Recall Masters, recently touted the benefits in a Digital Dealer article. One dealership saw 80 percent of the jobs coming in on Sunday needing maintenance work, such as quick service. “This immediately increases customer-pay revenue…” Miller says.

This service also eases the frustrations of customers trying to bring their vehicles in before work during the week and helps stave off third-party competition from quick lube centers who remain open on Sundays and willing service customers.

Few dealerships open their doors on Sundays (if they are legally allowed to do so), however, those who do find benefits.

Jeff Dobson, Service Manager at Pohanka Chevrolet, states, “It’s easier for clients to come in on Sunday. Put yourself in their shoes, alter your hours to meet their needs.”

Pohanka Chevrolet has offered Sunday service for about a decade.

Recruiting quality talent and retaining employees may be easier as well. Rick Wegley, an instructor with NCM Associates, recommends making “weekend hours a part of your recruitment.” Technicians may enjoy the steady work and knowing they can do activities, generally reserved for weekends, on a Monday when there is less of a crowd.

Consumers expect “convenience, customized service and control of the experience,” Bonnie Knutson, a professor in the School of Hospitality Business in the Broad College of Business at Michigan State University, says. So, in an age when consumers want what they want, when they want it, it makes sense to cater to their needs and provide a positive customer experience.

The more positive interactions a dealership can have with their customers, the likelier they are to turn them into a customer for life. Opening the service department on Sundays may be your next step to increasing customer retention and revenue.

Establish Trust and Sell More F&I

By Staff Writer on January 8, 2018

The economy is strong. Both new and used vehicle sales for 2017 are poised to be higher than initially estimated.

At the point-of-sale, more often than not, customers neglect to invest in warranties and service contracts because they don’t want to expend that additional cost; after all, the economy is cruising, they’re gainfully employed and they know cars are being produced with greater efficiency. Therefore, a customer wants to keep the sticker price low and doesn’t want to extend the lengthy purchase time.

You can’t give up on these buyers though; it’s important for your revenue to come back to them after the sale.

Gabe Garroni, vice president of sales at Ally Insurance, states “…three years into owning that car, everything changes. Service contracts become more important.”

If you don’t communicate with your customers after the sale, you lose the opportunity to sell them on F&I products that benefit your bottom line and their enjoyment of the vehicle you sold them.

Garroni suggests finding the right partners to help maintain communication lines with your vehicle buyers. That’s the precise intention of OneClick Loyalty; a platform designed to engage customers, build a relationship and foster a digital journey to entice repeat sales and service.

Once wary of dealership protection plans, the consumer is more open to the idea now than previously. “Consumers today are more comfortable than ever with the idea of protection plans,” Garroni says. Protection plans are sold, and used, for items such as smart phones and appliances. Having one for your vehicle too just makes sense.

F&I products succeed best when they are demonstrably in the customer’s best interest and delivered at the most relevant time. That’s why it’s important to communicate at key intervals with a clear demonstration of the value prop of the protection plan or product.

Protection plans are more important and relevant than ever. A record number of used cars were sold in Q2 2017, and with newer-model used vehicles, a protection plan is important to preventing long-term costly repairs. Ensuring your customers have established trust with you will help open them up to the idea of purchasing a protection plan through your F&I department.

Through personalization and proactive engagement, your customers will not only be more willing to open emails from you, but receptive to the information, such as F&I products, as well.

Are Your Employees Invested in Your Technology Upgrade?

By Staff Writer on December 18, 2017

After investing a considerable amount of money in upgrades to technology designed to make workers more productive, most dealerships are not seeing their numbers jump at all.

Over the past 40 years, the statistics are virtually unmoved:

  • Sales associates average 10 retail sales per month
  • Technicians average 40 hours per week

The answer isn’t more technology, but the right technology.

So, if you’re investing money into a CRM system, a system designed to manage relationships and turn leads into sales, how much of it are you actually using?

  • 43 percent of dealers use fewer than half the features they pay for!
  • 72 percent would be willing to give up extra features to have a system that is easier to use.

The problem is multifaceted. It’s complicated to use, there are too many features and difficulty in training are just a few examples on why a considerable portion of your investment is going unused.

If technology is complex and the training is time-consuming, then employees are averse to using it. They fall back on old, “tried-and-true” tactics that equate to similar outcomes: 10 retail sales/month.

With so much focus on digital communications and customer experiences, it has never been easier to remain in contact with your customers. But dealers want a cost-effective, comprehensive solution, not just a point solution for staying in touch with car buyers. After all, the cost for conquest is considerably more than retention. After-sales communication is key to retention in both sales and service. A customer bringing their vehicle in for service is far likelier to purchase their next vehicle at that dealership.

“Staying in touch digitally with sales and service customers is an opportunity to interact with thousands of people in an inexpensive way,” states Steve Finlay, WardsAuto.

With OneClick Loyalty, we provide the ease-of-use and ability to stay in contact with customer post-sales. Designed by dealers, for dealers, OneClick Loyalty reduces marketing costs while delivering a personalized experience to customers. You sign up and we do the rest. OneClick Loyalty is a customer relationship platform that you’ll actually use.

How to Win Customers in the Concierge Economy

By Staff Writer on November 20, 2017

Consumers want what they want, when they want it. They want personal service and the want it now. This is the concierge economy. And while the concept of personalization is all the buzz nowadays, it’s nothing more than the 2017 version of Burger King’s 1970’s slogan “Have it your way” — a slogan that lasted over 40 years.

A big driver in all of this is the prevalence of smart phones to order what they want and have it delivered wherever they are. Smart phones are always an arm’s length away encouraging immediacy and on-demand delivery of information, products and services, pushing companies to create a seamless experience from the phone to real-life. Whether it’s burgers or coffee or airline seats, customers are increasingly becoming used to the seamless experience from mobile to real life.

As a dealership, it’s critical to jump onboard this concierge economy to build a relationship with your buyers and show them that you’re here to help them “have it their way”— digitally.

So, how do you do it?

Digital Convenience is King

According to a Cox Automotive survey of over 4,500 U.S. consumers, 14 percent of service consumers booked their appointment online. Organizations like Westside Lexus in Houston strongly encourage their customers to book online, even enticing them to do so with rewards. By actively pushing customers in this direction. They have seen online appointment booking skyrocket from 10 percent to over 30 percent in just a couple years.

The benefits are two-fold: The customer is able to conveniently schedule their appointment quickly and easily, and the dealership operates more efficiently guaranteeing additional bookings.

The Days of Spray-and-Pray are Over

Customers are inundated with all sorts of marketing messages across multiple channels and devices. They’re aware of being marketed to and take appropriate measures to remove these digital distractions from their life. They only way to cut through that clutter and generate ROI is through personalization. By utilizing and understanding data, a dealership can deliver the right messages at the right time to the right customer.

The fact is, personalization generates revenue. “Studies show that 48% of shoppers will spend more when the digital shopping experience is personalized.”

Make It Available and Make It Easy

Being online is all about convenience. If it’s just as much of a hassle to schedule a service appointment online as it is by calling, then you’re doing yourself a disservice. The concierge economy is all about making daily life easier.

It’s crucial to let your customers know what tools you are making available to them because it’s likely almost half probably don’t even know that online scheduling exists.

Also, people are distracted easily so if you make it difficult to schedule an appointment, get more information or learn more about products or services, the customer is likely to abandon you and your site without any guarantee to return.

Let your customers know what is available and remove as many obstacles as possible.

Buyers have so much information and tools at their fingertips that comes with a level of personalization, convenience and availability like never before. This puts enormous pressure on today’s dealership to perform at the level of the Amazons and Starbuckses of the world. When shoppers know what they want, and they come to you for service, make sure you’re ready to meet their needs by providing a seamless experience from the smart phone to the service bay.

Want to personalize like the pros? OneClick Loyalty is a retention platform designed by dealers for dealers. By utilizing personalized messaging and delivering the right message at the right time, dealerships have the opportunity to truly engage with a customer and drive behavior. Let your customers have it their way and turn every vehicle buyer into a customer for life.

What’s More Profitable than Selling Cars?

By Staff Writer on October 30, 2017

What’s more profitable than selling cars? F&I

“Without a doubt, dealers are doing a much better job in selling product than what they used to,” says DealerStrong President Greg Goebel. This has led to consistent growth in profit this year and remarkably exceeding vehicle gross profit by more than double in some areas.

2015 was the first year in which F&I exceeded vehicle sales, however, the trend reversed last year. But, in 2017, F&I has retained its ability to outperform vehicle sales profit throughout the year due in part to shrinking margins.

Why the trend?

Goebel continues, “The dealers are becoming much more proficient, and finance companies are allowing much more significant F&I profit.”

Aggressive sales tactics are a thing of the past and many in the Millennial generation, as well as Generation X, will no longer accept it as part of the car buying experience. So, how does a dealership add to their bottom line via the F&I office without turning away customers?

According to Lloyd Trushel, F&I trainer, “The 1970s strategy of simply overcoming objections doesn’t work anymore.”

These old-school tactics are met with well-informed and skeptical customers. Trushel suggests personal engagement. Building trust is key to providing great service and retaining customers (and customer retention is far more cost-effective than conquest).

What happens if the customer purchases their car and leaves without an extended warranty, protection plan or other F&I product or service from your dealership?

Don’t consider it a lost sale yet.

By continuing to interact with your car buyers after the sale you can entice them to return to your dealership for service. As they do so, your dealership brand builds trust, opening the door to suggest the products they neglected at the time of sale.

It’s never too late to increase profits through F&I even after the sale because continuous, positive engagement increases the likelihood your buyer will return to your dealership for their next car and, therefore, meet with the F&I rep once again.

With OneClick Loyalty, you’ll have a platform designed to engage the customer and forge a relationship throughout the entire ownership lifecycle. Based on industry-leading customer experience algorithms, your dealership can strategically target the right message, at the right time to the right customer. This means you can market your extended warranty or service contract products, add-ons and additional F&I services even after the customer has left the lot and at times in the lifecycle in which they are likely to purchase.

Best of all, this level of engagement gives you the opportunity to turn a car buyer into a customer for life.

With almost 8 in 10 Americans living paycheck-to-paycheck, the idea of a $1,000 repair bill is crushing. Your F&I department can help ease the burdens of unexpected car repairs as the power of OneClick Loyalty continues to build trust between you and the customer.

How to Find Alternative Revenue Sources Amid Slowing Sales

By Staff Writer on October 23, 2017

Manufacturers are already pulling back inventory, how will your dealership maintain revenue with less vehicle sales?

Recently, General Motors announced its plan to lay off employees from its Detroit-Hamtramck plant starting Oct. 20 with a full shutdown commencing Nov. 20 until the end of the year. Shuttering a factory for five weeks is GM’s way to control inventory.

While September was a great month for vehicle sales boasting a 6.1 percent increase from September 2016 figures, estimates are mixed on vehicle sales projections for 2017 with a consensus showing 17.6 million; or just about as many sold in 2016.

If your dealership relies on new vehicle sales for revenue generation, there may be headaches in the forecast. Areas in the south, especially in the Houston area where Hurricane Harvey totaled over 1 million vehicles, there will be a major uptick in new vehicle sales but in other parts of the country, the jury is still out.

The good news is all the new vehicle sold will need routine maintenance and repairs in the coming years. Even if there is a decline in new vehicle sales, your dealership can entice customers to return for after-sales service; a crucial step in increasing retention.

But expecting the customer to show up is not a given. Less than half will maintain their vehicle at a dealership more than two times, and considerably less will stick around after the warranty expires. Research shows that the average dealership could generate over $100,000 more in gross profit simply by improving the customer experience.

Now is the time to build a true relationship with your buyers and create a positive experience to ensure they choose your dealership for their vehicle servicing as opposed to an independent shop.

But spraying-and-praying emails or blasting commercials in hopes it will drive customers into your dealership is an expensive game and far from an “experience.” A broad approach does not offer the customized or personal solution customers now expect from every company they interact with.

How do you make a personal connection with a list of thousands of people? With OneClick Loyalty™ we use industry-leading customer experience algorithms designed to hit the customer with relevant content at just the right frequency.

The result?

Dealerships avoid over communication and communication fatigue while delivering the right message, to the right customer at the right time turning dealership data into a comprehensive customer experience.

When customers are engaged with relevant content, they feel they have a better connection with the company in which they do business. In fact, customers are twice as likely to return for service and six times likely to purchase a new vehicle if a dealership interacts with them just five times.

Vehicle service is a $99 billion business with just 30% going to dealerships. It’s time to maximize the power of service retention.

Learn more about OneClick Loyalty at www.OneClickLoyalty.com.